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BBC accused of institutional 'trendy left-wing bias'

UK Daily Mail | June 18, 2007
PAUL REVOIR

The BBC is criticised for its liberal leanings in an official report published today, leading to claims that the corporation is "institutionally biased".

BBC bosses have been attacked for not reflecting a "broader range of views" and not thinking outside of its Left-leaning "comfort zone" in its programming.

The report, commissioned by the BBC, also attacks the way the corporation has pandered to politically motivated celebrities such as Bob Geldof and allowed schedules to be hijacked by special interest groups promoting trendy issues.

As part of the report's investigations, senior figures at the corporation were forced to admit it was guilty of promoting Left-wing views and an anti-Christian sentiment.

An "impartiality summit" held last year among BBC executives - some of the results of which were used in today's report - also admitted that gays and ethnic minorities were over-represented at the corporation.

It was also suggested that the BBC is guilty of political correctness, the overt promotion of multiculturalism and of being anti-American and against the countryside.

The report, parts of which were leaked yesterday, is believed to recommend staff challenge their own assumptions, claiming there is a culture at the broadcaster which sees it failing to reflect the views of the public on issues such as capital punishment.

Tory MP Philip Davies, who is on the Commons media select committee, said: "This report merely confirms what a load of people have thought for a long time, that the BBC does have an institutional Left-wing bias."

He said it needed to say how it is going to put its house in order and added that the way the BBC had allowed itself to be used by campaign groups in its programming was "sinister".

Tory culture spokesman Hugo Swire added: "This is yet another report that suggests the BBC has a problem with partisanship and very fixed views of the world."

John Whittingdale, Tory chairman of the culture, media and sport select committee, added:

"The bias is not necessarily party political - it is the BBC view of the world, and the BBC has always found it difficult to understand there may be alternative views of the world."

The report, which has been in preparation since 2005, raises concerns that across comedy, drama and entertainment shows, the BBC has allowed itself to be used by some campaign groups.

It singles out the way that the BBC covered Live 8 and the Make Poverty History campaign, which was driven by Geldof, Bono and writer Richard Curtis.

As well as Live 8, the BBC also broadcast The Girl In The Cafe, a drama about an anti-poverty campaigner, and a Christmas edition of The Vicar Of Dibley on BBC1 which featured a minute-long clip of the Make Poverty History video.

The report finds no evidence that the BBC's news and politics coverage is biased.

The report follows a speech by Paul Dacre, editor-in-chief of Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Mail, at the beginning of the year about the BBC's failure to reflect the broader views of British people.

Delivering the Hugh Cudlipp Memorial lecture in January, Mr Dacre said: "What really disturbs me is that the BBC is, in every corpuscle of its corporate body, against the values of conservatism, with a small "c", which just happen to be the values held by millions of Britons.

"It is hostile to conservatism and the traditional Right, Britain's past and British values, America, Ulster Unionism, Euro-scepticism, capitalism and big business, the countryside, Christianity, and family values.

"Conversely it is sympathetic to Labour, European Federalism, the State and State spending, mass immigration, minority rights, multiculturalism, alternative lifestyles, abortion and progressiveness in the education and the justice systems."

He added: "The BBC is consumed by the kind of political correctness that is actually patronisingly contemptuous-of what it describes as ordinary people."

BBC Trustee Richard Tait, a former editor-in-chief of ITN and one of the report's authors, said: "The BBC cannot allow its output to be taken over by campaigning groups any more than by political parties."

During last October's impartiality summit, hosted by Sue Lawley, executives said they would happily broadcast an image of a Bible being thrown away but would not do the same for the Koran.

BBC executives also agreed that the corporation should broadcast a hypothetical interview with Osama Bin Laden, despite the offence it would cause.

Even one of the BBC's most senior journalists, political pundit Andrew Marr, admitted it was unrepresentative of British society and had a "cultural liberal bias".

The BBC denied the report found any evidence of institutional bias or evidence of a Left-leaning bias in its output.

CASE AGAINST THE CORPORATION

Here is some of the evidence that the corporation has allowed a particular political viewpoint to dominate its news and even light entertainment.

Today's report pinpoints:

• A Christmas edition of The Vicar Of Dibley, starring Dawn French.

Written by Richard Curtis, a leading figure in the Make Poverty History campaign, it included a minute-long video by the group urging people to support them.

•The drama The Girl in the Cafe, also by Mr Curtis, about an anti-poverty campaigner who makes a heartfelt plea to world leaders.

This again raised concerns that the BBC was being used for campaigning ends.

Concerns were raised over the BBC's journalism at a House of Lords committee meeting recently when:

• A week-long strand of programmes about poverty in Africa and a special NHS day were criticised by Sky News political editor Adam Boulton for risking the appearance of Government propaganda.

At the BBC "impartiality summit" last year examples of the failure of its journalism to be neutral included:

•BBC "diversity tzar" Mary Fitzpatrick claiming women newsreaders should be able to wear what they liked on air, including the Muslim veil.

• BBC Washington correspondent Justin Webb accused his own employers of being anti-American, saying they treated the nation with scorn and derision and "no moral weight".

• Ex-BBC business editor Jeff Randall said he complained to a senior executive about the BBC's pro-multi-culturalism stance - to which he was told:

"The BBC is not neutral in multiculturalism, it believes in it and promotes it."

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